The name Strymon has been slowly becoming more and more common over the last 4-5 years amongst guitar and bass players, and for good reason. What Strymon has bought to the table are digitally controlled effects pedals with a collection of sounds that are equal parts familiar, otherwordly and inspiring.
When brands like MXR and the likebegan to mass produce high-quality pedals in the 70s, it was all capacitors, wiring and analogue potentiometers. These components lend themselves greatly to guitar tones and the sounds that were pushing the envelope at that time. Fast forward to the 80s and 90s, and digital processors were all the rage, regardless of how fake or processed they sounded (albeit nostalgic now in 2021). The harshness of those digital sounds pushed guitarists back into analogue pedals with capacitors and transistors producing the subtle saturation that lended itself so well to the kind of gear we were already using: analogue and hand-wired amps that clip, distort and boost sound in unpredictable but very pleasing ways.
Let's jump ahead to 2009, when a small company that produced tube-driven effects pedals began producing more complex effects under the Strymon name. Thanks to massive technological advances, including Moore's Law (look that one up!), Strymon were now able to build pedals with previously unimaginable processing power. What this means is that not only can Strymon use the same digital effects technology that we began to harness in the 80s and 90s, but they can include analogue modelling to make the sound we hear more pleasing when mixed with any other piece of gear. We have the subtle saturation and response of analogue wiring, but the expandability and predictability of digital technology.
While digital technology may sound great, it will respond exactly the same every time, based on its programming. While this sounds like an asset, the imperfection and wild nature of analogue gear is part of why it's been such a mainstay of modern music and audio. The imperfection and randomness offers a chance at the 'magic' we're all chasing, sometimes in a way that can't be produced and you better hope you captured it while it was happening! Obviously this is a double-edged sword, as the randomness of analogue isn't always pleasing and analogue equipment can require a lot of upkeep.
What Strymon aim to do is to open up a world of possibilities to their players and customers. Strymon employ DSP (Digital Signal Processing) processors to allow them to offer the sounds and options that they do. In a nutshell, Strymon pedals are a series of A-D and D-A convertors (analogue to digital, digital to analogue) with digital processing happening before the signal is converted back to analogue. To break it down even further, your guitar is an analogue signal that gets converted to digital language that a computer or DSP chip can understand and process, before the DSP converts the processed sound back to analogue audio and sends it out the output. For those recording at home, this is similar to how a recording interface converts the signal from a microphone plugged into its pre-amp into digital language, processed through your computer and DAW, before being converted back to analogue signal when it's played out of your headphones or speakers. While Strymon's DSP chips aren't quite as powerful as your laptop, they're not far off.
Strymon are known for their iconic tones, but also their recallability (the ability to save, store and recall settings) due to their digital processing which has space and memory available to store many presets and sounds for you to quickly use, but also to store, tweak and create your own.
You can shop our full Strymon range here, and take note of the sheer amount of options, presets and controllable parameters that they offer. What they may lack in wild, analogue unpredictability, they make up for in enough options for you get lost and never look back.